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'Music in Our Schools Month' to conclude with band concert

by Gail Marsh

STAFF WRITER

More than 200 students from throughout the county will be gathering at Robert C. Byrd High School on March 28 to perform in this year's All County Cadet and All County High School Band Concert.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. The event is part of the national effort to bring attention to the importance of music in education during March, which has been designated "Music in Our Schools Month 2000."

"These are students who have competed to take part in the concert and are working hard to make sure they give a good performance. It's always a great concert," said James Ellis, band director for RCB and chair of the All County High School group.

At the cadet, or middle school, level, students were required to audition in February before county band directors by preparing two selections and performing scales and other exercises. High school students who auditioned in January at West Virginia University for all state band will play in the all county concert.

Matt Corathers, a senior at RCB, has participated in the all county concerts every year since sixth grade. Corathers, who plays the clarinet, said he continues to participate each year because he enjoys the challenge.

"The concert gives you a chance to play selections that you don't normally get to try out in the regular band. You get the opportunity to push yourself to see how far you can really go," he said.

Corathers said his favorite concert was the year the group performed theme music from Jurassic Park. He also said that this year, by far, includes the most difficult pieces he has ever played.

The high school band will be performing selections from a major work by Carl Orff called "Carmina Burana." The work has 13 different movements, and the band will be performing about five of those pieces.

The guest conductor for the high school ensemble this year is Mark Aldrich, a temporary assistant professor of music and director of bands at Fairmont State College. Dr. Aldrich has taught instrumental and choral music in schools in Vermont, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Aldrich is a member of the College of Band Directors National Association, Music Educators National Conference, West Virginia Music Educators Association, and is currently having a composition published entitled "Wind Band Settings of Anglo-American Folk Music."

Guest conductor for the cadet band this year is David Shaffer, a visiting instructor of music theory and current director of the Miami (Ohio) University Marching Band.

Shaffer founded a program called Music on the Move Inc., which provides music teaching staffing services for private and parochial schools throughout Ohio. An active composer, Shaffer has more than 220 compositions and arrangements that are performed at clinics and music festivals around the world.

The cadet band will be playing several selections by Shaffer, including "By Dawn's Early Light," "Burst of Brass," Hope, Honor and Glory," "Diablo Canyon" and "Sousa Spectacular." The band will also perform one selection not composed by Shaffer, called "Mambo # 5."

The concert is open to the public, and Ellis said the event is always well attended. The students have been meeting weekly for practice and are looking forward to the performance, he said.

"The concert gives students a chance to play with other students from throughout the county, a high-quality group. It's something they can be proud of," Ellis said.

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